EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — Jury selection is set to begin Monday in the trial of Letecia Stauch, a former Horry County Schools employee accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon, whose remains were found in Pace, Florida in March 2020.
However, prosecutors are not expected to begin presenting evidence in the case until April 3.
Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach in March 2020 and extradited to Colorado, where she is charged with first-degree murder; child abuse resulting in death; tampering with a deceased human body; tampering with physical evidence, eight counts of crime of violence; and attempted escape.
Stauch was employed by Horry County Schools from November 2010 until she resigned in June 2015, the district said. She began as a para-professional, a position she held until 2012. She then worked as a special education teacher until her resignation.
Below is a timeline of Stauch’s court appearances over the past three years.
Pre-trial readiness conference
At a hearing on March 9, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said that despite not having the final sanity report from a defense expert, the prosecution still wants to move forward with the set trial date of March 20.
Allen said the prosecution’s hope is to receive the report prior to trial so his team can have experts from the state hospital interpret the findings.
El Paso County Judge Gregory Werner ordered the submission of the final sanity report to the court by 5 p.m. Thursday. “It is not a suggestion. It is not a guideline. It is not a hope. It is a deadline,” he said.
Trial date set
On Oct. 13, 2022, after several delays, Stauch’s long-anticipated trial date was set for Monday. The final results of Stauch’s mental evaluations were expected to be completed by Dec. 1, according to Stauch’s defense.
A preliminary hearing originally set for June 5, 2020, and June 8, 2020, was postponed multiple times to give Stauch’s new defense team adequate time to prepare.
The hearing was eventually finalized to Sept. 9, 2021, and Sept. 10, 2021. Details of Gannon’s murder were presented in court during this time.
Sanity reports delay court hearings
May 12, 2020: Stauch’s defense team asked for a delay in a pre-trial hearing that would determine if the prosecution’s evidence was enough to go to trial. Attorneys for Stauch said regulations on visitation at the El Paso County Jail made it impossible to speak to their client.
May 18, 2020: A new charge was filed against Stauch after the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said another inmate told them that Stauch was trying to escape the jail.
June 5, 2020: An El Paso County judge ordered a competency evaluation for Stauch.
Sept. 8, 2020: State mental health experts determined Stauch competent to stand trial. Her defense team requested a second evaluation.
Nov. 4, 2020: Stauch requested a delay in pretrial proceedings due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the El Paso County Jail.
Dec. 22, 2020: Stauch underwent a second competency evaluation.
Jan. 19, 2021: Stauch’s second competency evaluation found her competent to stand trial.
March 8, 2021: Stauch wrote a letter to Werner claiming that she was not mentally well, that “indeed I am innocent.” She also said that she believed her defense team “is in cahoots with them (prosecution). “I am left with no other choice but to represent myself,” she said.
May 12, 2021: Stauch was back in court where her new defense counsel told the judge that her case needed more time to be reviewed. It was at that time that the preliminary hearing date was set for Sept. 9, 2021, and Sept. 10, 2021.
Search for Gannon
Gannon was reported as a runaway on Jan. 27, 2020. At first, his stepmother said he went to play at a friend’s house and didn’t return.
A few days later, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office amended the case to that of a missing and endangered child.
In the days following Gannon’s disappearance, neighbors in Lorson Ranch organized search parties, lit blue lights for Gannon to find his way home and held vigils in his honor.
By Feb. 3, 2020, more than 1,860 hours of investigative work had been done and 2,400 staff hours had been put into search efforts.